Title: By the Grace of God
Author: Zalia Chimera
Warnings: Non-graphic but really obvious sex.
Summary: Scenes from the Glorious Revolution: A relationship in 4 parts.
"No matter that this was planned, the best outcome, no Nation wanted to see the victory procession of someone else's monarch on their soil. They were inside London, inside his heart and that was a strange feeling."
"So France is paying you now, eh?"
The tone of Holland's voice made it sound entirely lascivious and England scowled darkly at him.
"It's a naval agreement," he replied flatly, "nothing more than that.". While the fact that he was taking money from France at all rankled bitterly, he wasn't about to display that. Holland had been strutting around arrogantly recently, and it annoyed him something fierce. He didn't answer to Holland. He didn't answer to anyone. He poured himself another cup of tea; he was becoming rather fond of the stuff, and even if it came from Holland, he wasn't about to turn down the gift.
"You seem to be enjoying that. Got a taste for the orient?"
England sniffed haughtily and poured a cup for Holland as well. Chinese tea and Chinese pottery. "The future is to the East. You've been spending time enough over there recently."
Holland smirked and stretched out his long legs, resting his arms full length along the back of the chaise. It was so indolent that it rather made England want to hit him, fancy clothes and expensive tea be damned. "It's nothing more yet," Holland replied, his gaze too sharp when it met England's. "How long before he's funding everything or putting his aristocrats in your government and you're just his obedient little pawn?"
"That," England snapped, a snarl in his voice, "will never happen."
"You sure about that?" Holland asked, still perfectly calm in contrast to England's irritation. "I heard that they were searching for some little French princeling to be your boss's heir. A Catholic," he spat, his face twisting into an expression of distaste.
"That's..." England looked away, staring at one of the fine paintings on the wall of the room instead of at Holland's smug face. He couldn't even deny it, could he? They were trying to reform him again, to take him back to Rome and the Papacy. He could still feel the aches of the change in his bones. He didn't want to begin it all again.
There was the sharp click of boot heels across the floor, and then Holland was next to him, leaning over the arm of the chair, too close for comfort. "They'll drag you back if they can," Holland said quietly. "They'll have you licking the boots of the Pope while they suck you dry. You remember what it was like last time."
"Of course I remember," England said sharply, still refusing to look at him, even when Holland pressed up close so that he could feel the other nation's warmth. How could he forget the bloodshed of those times. "I still thank the lord that Mary was left without a child." And that he'd been able to drive Spain out. He didn't relish the thought of inviting him back in, that infuriating smile on his lips and his overly affectionate words.
He started when he felt the cool touch of leather against his cheek, but he allowed himself to be turned so that he was facing Holland. The other Nation's gloved hand slid beneath England's chin to tilt his head up. "If you remember, then why are you fighting me?" Holland asked, his eyes narrowed as he searched England's for the answer to the question. "I can help you!"
England snorted derisively, pulling back and knocking Holland's hand away from him lightly. "Please do not pretend that you have anything but your own interests at heart," he said haughtily. "We both know that if I fall to them, then you'll be Spain's bitch again soon enough."
There was a flicker of anger in Holland's cool eyes for a moment, before gave a harsh, unpleasant laugh, that carried no real mirth. "No, I've not real use for altruism and neither have you, which is why you should join with me. We have desires in common. Neither of us wants to end up on bended knee to Rome, so why not a partnership of equals?" His large hand came to rest against England's side, above his hip. "We could be powerful. My trade and your military." His voice was heated with passion that made England's breath hitch. He really did believe it, didn't he? And he was persuasive when he talked so.
England hesitated for a moment, almost allowing himself to be caught up in his words. "You sound rather infatuated with the idea," he said dryly, "I thought that you love was reserved for profit alone."
Holland shrugged, and easy smile on his lips replacing the darkness of only a moment before. "Profit and freedom, and this could ensure both so what reason do I have to protest?"
"You're incorrigible." But he did have a point. The coffers always needed filling.
"I'm right," Holland replied with absolute certainty. "Surely, you can see that?"
"I will think on it," England replied grudgingly, but in a tone that suggested further badgering would be met with anger. "And please remove your hands from my person," he added with some exasperation, as Holland's fingers drifted lazily down his thigh.
"Can't blame someone for trying," Holland said unrepentantly. "You have a reputation."
"I can and do blame people for the same," England replied. "I said that I would think on it, and groping me will not make that happen any sooner. On the contrary, it reminds me unpleasantly of the frog and makes me feel quite ill." France with his wandering hands and lecherous grin and Catholic ways. Bastard.
"Well, do not think on it for too long," Holland said, serious once more, his expressions as mercurial as ever. "We do not have 'til doomsday for you to ruminate. My Boss wants it settled."
"I'm certain that he does," came England's unsympathetic response. "You shall have my answer with all haste. Now please depart to pass on the message before my King accuses me of consorting with you." Even he wasn't immune to the anger of his monarch.
"Isn't that what we are doing?" Holland said smugly, "or are you hoping for more than consorting?" Without warning, he leaned over to press his lips to England's in a kiss that was far from chaste.
England spluttered, his eyes widening at the intrusion, and after a moment (a moment longer than he liked to admit), he shoved Holland away, wiping his lips with the back of his sleeve. "Get out before I gut you you filthy-" He continued his want with a number of words never before heard in the palace, and a few that were new to the country entirely.
"I await your favourable response," Holland said, smirking and sounding sickeningly amused. He gave a mocking bow and took his leave.
30th June 1688
So this was what it came down to.
Holland met him at the docks in The Hague when he disembarked. It was a cold and miserable day, the air thick with damp and the gangplank slick and slippery beneath his feet, and it made that heavy cloak and hood that Holland was wearing to hide his distinctive hair that bit less conspicuous. Holland didn't speak, just pressed another cloak into England's arms, and once he had donned it, led him to the nondescript carriage which would take them to the capital and Holland's boss. The curtains were drawn to hide them from prying eyes, but the silence remained between them until the coach was under way.
"So," Holland said, filling his pipe from the pouch he kept at his hip, "you've decided to see sense."
England twisted aside the curtain a little and peered out at the streets of the city as they passed through it. He could smell the sickly-sweet smoke of whatever it was that Holland was smoking. He was certain that it was never just tobacco. "It seems that it may be in my best interests after all," he said quietly, letting the curtain fall closed once more.
Holland laughed shortly and shrugged off his cloak. He was dressed like a merchant instead of a noble this time, but richly for all that, with rings on his fingers and a silk scarf 'round his neck. "You should have just given me that answer when I saw you last. It would have saved you a trip and you could have been free of him by now."
England gave him a flat, displeased look. "Or the smug look on your face would have alerted everyone in Europe to your intentions and you would have been thrown out of the country."
Holland arched an eyebrow at him. "Oh, I'm good enough at hiding my hand when I need to."
England made a derisive sound and turned back to the window and the view outside, as though it were of any great interest to him.
"You always make things more difficult for yourself, England."
England started as fingers brushed his cheek and carefully pushed down the hood of the coat. He turned to glower at Holland, who just regarded him with that infuriatingly calm look. "It's going to be a while until we arrive. There's no need to keep yourself hidden for the whole journey," Holland said mildly, but his fingers lingered, warm against England's skin.
"You have a short memory," England said warningly. "I could still change my mind and gut you, literally andmetaphorically."
"You won't," Holland replied with utter certainty. He slid off the seat to kneel before England, pressed up against his legs, and lord, it should have been a sign of weakness, to kneel like that, England had made enough nations kneel before him in defeat and supplication, but like this, with Holland looking at him in such a way, it was in no way submissive. The atmosphere of the carriage was suddenly stifling and England reached up to loosen his cravat. "You won't because you want to be sucking off Spain and France as much as I do, and right now, I'm all that you have."
"There are others!" England protested, but it sounded weak to his own ears.
Holland shook his head and then leaned close, chin against England's knee, eyes heavy lidded and lazy. "Who? Denmark and Sweden have their own problems. Russia? He doesn't care about your succession issues." He gave a sharp bark of laughter. "'sides, he practically worships France, creepy kid. Face it, anyone else who could help you either won't, or would be all too happy to conquer you for real."
"And you wouldn't, I suppose?" England asked sceptically, lips drawn into a sneer. He put little faith into the honour of other nations.
"In this case, a partnership would be much more lucrative," Holland replied. "William has a claim to the throne, and his queen will be one of yours. Why would I conquer when we could be united as one?"
"You make it sound so easy," England said. It couldn't be that easy. These things never were. "Even if my people support this, my King is my Boss and I can't fight against him. Not like this. I'm committing treason!"
"Can you really commit treason against yourself?" Holland asked, his smile widening. He sounded so damned reasonable! "You are the country. Surely you know what is best for you. And there's a first time for everything. Unless you want to wait for it to turn into a full-blown revolution and watch his head roll?"
England shuddered at the memory. No, those years had been hell for him, torn in so many directions. "It doesn't work like that, and you know it," he said in a low voice, unable to completely hide the bitterness in his voice. "We do not get to decide that for ourselves." It was the people who made a country, and the Boss who gave them direction.
Holland tilted his head slightly, lips pressing against the inside of England's knee. "Why not? Your people want this. They are the ones who are driving for this! Why are you ignoring them? Isn't it a greater act of treason to ignore the ones who make you what you are?" Holland moved again,, shifting forward until his lips were pressed against the front of England's trouser, his gaze upturned, watching England's reaction carefully.
England's breath hitched at the motion, and Holland smiled. "How about I sweeten the deal?" he said, pressing an open-mouthed kiss against the same spot, tongue damping the material, and England could feel the press of it against his cock. "A taster before out 'wedding night' hm?"
A breathless laugh escaped England's lips, and he tried to ignore the high flush on his cheeks and the heat pooling in his groin,l but oh, Holland looked good on his knees. "Aren't you taking this 'union' business a little too far?" he said, hating the husky tone that had crept into his voice.
"Isn't that what this is?" Holland asked, that damnable smile still in place, even when his lips were so close to England's most intimate parts. "William and Mary ruling together. Me and you joined almost as one. It seems about as close to matrimony as our kind can get." he slid his fingers beneath the waist of England's trousers, starting to draw them down.
England did not stop him.
"If I didn't know better," he replied with wry amusement in his voice as he squirmed to make it easier for Holland to slide the material down over the curve of his buttocks, "I would think that you were a romantic. You never struck me as the type for monogamy."
Holland gazed a moment at England's half hard cock, tongue poking out to flick over his lips in a way that made England shiver. "That's where we have it better than humans," Holland said, and England could feel hot breath against his flesh, "no-one can do anything if we have mistresses." He grinned wickedly and then ducked his head. England stifled a cry against the back of his wrist as the hot mouth engulfed him.
17th December 1688
If every invasion went like this, then Holland would have been Lord and Master of all Europe by now. If only Spain would be so docile and show his belly as soon as Holland set foot on his shores. Ah, but that would take the fun away, Holland thought, and he did so want to see Spain suffering if he ever got the chance to crush him. More than that, he wanted to see Spain's face when he realised that it was Holland who would crush him.
His boss clapped him on the back. "London! This is a fine day, my Nation."
"It is," Holland replied with a grin, taking in the magnificent sight of his Boss ready to ride into England's capital on a pure white horse. The tack was bedecked with bright orange ribbons and banners and flags, all his, flew in the wind. He truly looked like a conquering monarch in Holland's admittedly biased opinion. He wondered what England would think of the spectacle when they finally entered the city. William certainly looked more the part of a King than that Papist, James. But again, his impartiality could hardly be trusted on the matter.
"I have not seen your English brother since we landed," his Boss said with a frown.
Holland nodded, his jovial smile fading a little as he glanced towards the gates of the city. All of the English soldiers had been ordered to quit the place, but there had been no sign of England amongst them and he had not come to greet Holland's boss. "Me either," he replied, more seriously, and it was worrying, even if he wouldn't admit it. "He'll be at your coronation," Holland said with some certainty, "I'll make sure of it."
A horn sounded and his boss, his king, straightened in the saddle, and Holland felt a swell of pride. Hisboss, soon to be King of England, and he was magnificent.
The horn sounded again, and Holland saluted as his boss rode off towards the city. He waited a few minutes before he hoisted himself up into the saddle of his own horse. He was a little disappointed that he wouldn't get to see the army riding in, banners flaring in the breeze, horns sound, but there would be celebrations a-plenty soon enough. For now, he headed off at a trot towards the other side of the city. He had an errant Nation to find.
This, England thought sourly, was just embarrassing.
He stared morosely out through the barred window at the empty courtyard that the tower overlooked. How had it come to this? Locked up in his own bloody prison for treason!
Oh, of course his boss (former boss? He hadn't heard anything in weeks, hadn't seen him or any of the guards in nearly as long) had not said as much and had claimed that it was for England's safety and protection against the invading Dutch army, but England was no fool. The only thing that was keeping him from execution for treason was the fact that he was practically immortal and, well, he wasthe country. It would be difficult to rule a country that you had murdered.
Not that there were not worse things than death. England was rather beginning to wonder if his King intended to leave him here permanently, wall up the entrance and ensure that England could never leave, never cleave to a new King.
A shudder ran down his spine at the thought and he stared back at the door with trepidation. Perhaps he had been played false by Holland. It was a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach and he closed his eyes, leaning his forehead against the cool stone wall. Was the invasion already over and his island made nothing more than a Dutch province while he was left to rot?
When had he last eaten? There were empty plates but they'd stopped coming for them and he couldn't remember when and he didn't need to eat but...
He swore that he could hear scratching from the doorway and he approached it, feeling bile in the back of his throat. Mason's tools. Scratch, scratch, sealing him in, brick by brick by brick and they'd see him sometimes, a face at the window, another of the tower's ghosts and...
The door moved beneath his hand and he nearly sobbed with relief, shaking it again just to feel it. Barred shut, but not sealed with stone and mortar. He slumped down onto the floor, back against the door, just so that he would hear any movement, any footsteps, any scratch scratch scratch of tools outside the door.
He might have fallen asleep there, fretful dreams or delusional imaginings, but he heard footsteps, sharp and purposeful in the hallway outside. He scrambled to his feet, banging against the door near panicked, desperate for some acknowledgement. Was this is King come for him bearing news? Or to sentence him? Either would be better than this hell of waiting and uncertainty.
Or were the masons come to seal his fate.
He laughed softly, a strained, mad sound, and backed away, glancing towards the window and wondering whether the jump from there would damage his body enough to prevent him running.
The lock rattled, key turning within the mechanism. England's breath caught in his throat, words stillborn on his lips. And he couldn't die, no, but the alternatives were so much worse.
"You alive in there?"
Holland's gruff voice reached him and he felt like sobbing with relief and embarrassment, twisting his shirt between his fingers again and again. "O-of course I'm alive!" he snapped, hoping that the bluster would hide some of the tremor in his voice. Holland was wearing armour, he realised with a jolt as the other nation entered the room, and he had a sword with him, sharp straight steel, not one of those pretty ceremonial ones.
"Pity," Holland said with a grin. "Can't just claim the place as mine then."
"You try and I'll castrate you!" England snarled, teeth bared into a feral snarl, his captivity seeming to have stripped away the layers of humanity that he normally cloaked himself in.
Holland laughed, a predatory sound, and advanced on England, coming to rest his hands against his shoulders. With a sharp movement, he forced England up against the wall of the chamber, holding him there with apparent ease. England hated it with every fibre of his being, the weakness in his limbs with his soldiers fleeing the capital. Holland gave him a searching look. "Wasn't sure I'd find you."
"We agreed to this," England said, wishing that he could calm his breathing, feeling as trapped now as he had with the door fast shut.
Holland smirked and leaned close, close enough that England could feel his breath, hot with conquest-desire. "James has fled, England," he said, "your King is gone and mine is here. Rode into the city this morning. Pity you missed the sight." There was something smug in his tone that left England feeling distinctly uncomfortable. No matter that this was planned, the best outcome, no Nation wanted to see the victory procession of someone else's monarch on their soil. They were inside London, inside his heartand that was a strange feeling.
"It will be over soon," Holland continued, his expression darkening, "but if you play me false, I'll raze this city to the ground and rip your empire from you." he smiled and it was far from a niceexpression.
"Since my alternative is having Spain or France here instead," England said harshly, meeting Holland's gaze squarely, "I certainly do not plan on betrayal."
Holland snorted softly, because when were these things ever planned. He kissed England roughly, teeth clicking together before he forced his tongue into England's mouth, a possessive, dominating gesture. England snarled into Holland's mouth, and then kissed back just as violently. He was not the spoils of war to be taken so, not some fragile pretty for Holland to claim, he was Englandand this would not subdue him!
"You learned your skills from Spain, I see," he said cruelly, and feeling Holland tense against him gave him a sick sense of satisfaction. The flash of anger in his eyes just made it swell.
It was replaced quickly with coarse mirth. "Way you reacted, guess you learned a lot from France," Holland replied, sneering.
"All the more reason to hate him."
13th February 1689
Westminster was crowded, and the crowds extended into the streets outside, curious commoners coming for a glimpse of their new monarchs. It was done with all pageantry, as befitting a coronation, no expense spared. And all it had taken was hours of debate and politicking and negotiation between William and Mary and the entire House of Commons and probably a few people England hadn't thought of yet. It was immensely tedious and had given him a headache which refused to leave. The immense noise as people entered the Abbey was not helping.
He started when a cool hand was placed against the back of his neck, fingers digging in gently, starting to work out the knots that had built up there over the previous weeks. An involuntary groan escaped his lips as the familiar hand continued, soothing coolness seeping into his skin, relieving the tautness in his muscles.
There was a soft laugh and then warmth against his back as Holland leaned over his shoulder, breath tickling England's ear. "You like that." It wasn't a question, didn't need to be a question, not when Holland knew everything about him now. He could hear the bells ringing high and bright all across London, celebrating the day of the coronation, the union of their countries.
He hissed as Holland's fingers found a particularly tender spot, and then relaxed, shoulders slumping as the tension unwound. "That's better," he said, but Holland didn't didn't stop his gentle massage, seeming determined to not stop until England was limp in his arms. The thought made England straighten up, pulling away uncomfortably. It disturbed him a little, how comfortable he was with Holland's hands on him now, like they belonged there.
"England?" Holland said quietly, and he didn't even need to elaborate, damn him, England knew what he meant without it being spoken.
He smiled weakly, turning in his chair to look at the other nation. He was dressed in a simple shirt and trousers, rather than the finery that the day deserved and it gave England pause for a moment. "We should head to the Abbey," he said after a moment, pushing himself to his feet. There was no expectation that they should be there, they weren't needed now the decisions had been made, but he didn't like how natural the closeness felt.
Holland caught his wrist, the gesture surprisingly gentle when not long before, they would have left careless bruises. Holland twists his hand upwards, presses his lips to England's knuckles, and England's stomach churns when he recognises it as the same warm affection that William shows to his Mary, his soon to be Queen.
"We can stay here," Holland said, his smile lazy and hungry and the heat makes something else, something far more pleasant, stir inside him.
He pulled his hand away and turned his back on the other Nation. "You've gone soft," he said harshly.
"It's a day of celebrations," Holland replied with a dismissive shrug. "Shouldn't we be enjoying ourselves?" England could hear him approaching, careful steps across the floor, and the line of heat against his back. "Do you want this to be a chore?"
"I don't like this being made more of than it is," England said coolly, although he made no attempt to pull away, hated that he found it comforting, political stability pooling warmth and strength through his body. It felt good, like he hadn't felt in years.
"We're united, England," Holland said gently, grasping England's chin and turning his head so that England had no choice but to meet his eyes. "One monarch."
"You threatened to raze London to the ground," England replied with a sneer, relishing the flicker of strange hurt and awkwardness which crossed Holland's face.
"That was... that was not now. There's no point now."
No, no there wasn't, was there? His nobles and politicians and even his people were content and so how could he feel anything different? "I hate it, Holland," he said harshly. "I hate that I don't even feel resentment for this. I should be ashamed, bringing in a foreign monarch to invade. But I don't." In the end, when had his feelings ever been his own?
Holland smirked, a lopsided expression with no mirth in it. "Believe me, I found the conquest-thrill much more pleasing, but I'll take what I can get." He pulled England close against his body, nipped lightly at his earlobe until England shuddered. "I'm sure we'll keep things interesting."
"I'm sure," England said with a snort, even as he felt the spike of heat through his blood.
He twisted in Holland's grasp, grabbed the front of his shirt and dragged him down for a kiss, trying to fill it with all of the bitterness and anger that was consuming him. Holland's arms wrapped around him, pulling their bodies flush together, and it was gentle, England realised with a start. He started to pull away, but Holland kept tight hold of him, deepening the kiss and England found himself relaxing into it, lips softening and parting willingly, none of the forceful roughness that it had begun with. Holland's hand raised to slide into the short hair at the nape of his neck, thumb rubbing softly at skin there, a sensation which made England shiver pleasantly.
A cheer was rising over London, bells ringing, their countries joined as one Nation, and it was compelling. Later there would be friction, there was always was but for now...
Pre-fic: James II King of England was not a particularly popular figure. He was a Catholic,which alienated him from both political parties of the time, and the country, as the monarch was supposed to be head of the Protestant Church of England. He did away with the Acts of parliament and installed Catholics into positions of power, which seemed like a prelude to absolute rule by a monarch once more.
William of Orange was the husband of James' daughter, Mary, and stadtholder of the main provinces of the Dutch republic, and feared England becoming a Catholic country once more, as it could easily lead to England forming close alliances with France and Spain, which the Dutch republic could not stand up to.
April 1688: England and France concluded a naval agreement, where the French would finance an English squadron in the channel.
30th June 1688: A letter from the Immortal Seven (6 nobles and one Bishop of England) arrived in The Hague, carried by Rear Admiral Herbet. The letter asked for William to intervene and, essentially, to come and invade Britain because he would have the support of most of the country.
17th December 1688: William's forces enter London unopposed. The guards had been told to leave, and they did, while James had been allowed to 'escape' to Italy.
13th February 1689: After months of negotiation, William and Mary were crowned King and Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland. One of the main points of negotiation was that William threatened to leave if they tried to make him Regent rather than King, and even after that was agreed, further negotiation was required to ensure that he would be able to rule after the death of Mary.